Thursday Open Thread

“When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.”

–George Carlin

Bob Beauprez is Joshua Hosler’s “Puppet Master,” Says Dudley Brown

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dudley Brown.

Dudley Brown jumped on a conservative radio show this morning to respond, for the first time, to a Republican’s accusation that his organization, which is aligned with the right wing of the Republican Party, is “Colorado’s Taliban.”

Joshua Hosler, the former chair of the El Paso County Republican Party, expressed the view in a Denver Post opinion piece, in which Hosler also accused the State House Republicans’ Chief of Staff of threatening to spread rumors about Hosler unless Hosler agreed to stop attacking Brown’s group, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

“[Hosler] is speaking for the left side of the Republican Party,” Brown told KNUS 710-AM’s host, Peter Boyles. “We call that the establishment. He might as well admit that Bob Beauprez is his puppet master.”

Brown called Hosler a “very very minor player” in the Republican Party and a “failed state house candidate,” who is “a little butt hurt because we endorsed his opponent,” State Rep. Dave Williams.

The dispute between Hosler and Brown reflects wider divisions within the Colorado Republican Party over whether to moderate hard-line stances, stop using losing consultants, distance themselves from Trump, and other issues in the wake of devastating losses in last year’s election–as well as the prospect of another blue-wave thrashing at the ballot box next year.

“I think the frustration for both Bob Beauprez and little players like Joshua Hosler is that the [Republican] Party has moved pretty substantially to the right on guns, and that’s been due to us,” said Brown on air. “Setting all humility aside, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is the group that given [Republicans] a spine. And Greg Brophy, the former state senator, has talked about that frequently.”

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Gardner’s Silence Roars During Latest Obamacare Threat


Westword’s Chase Woodruff reports:

As yet another Republican legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act makes its way through the courts, Colorado Democrats are sounding the alarm over its potentially devastating impact on the state’s health care system — and blasting Senator Cory Gardner for his continued silence on the lawsuit.

“This would do irrevocable harm to consumers,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, on Tuesday, July 9. “It would leave millions without insurance options, it would throw our health care system into chaos, and it would threaten our state’s fiscal stability.”

Fox and other health policy experts spoke to reporters as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments in Texas v. Azar, the latest in a long line of Republican attempts to overturn the ACA, also known as Obamacare, through Congress and the courts…

This latest of so many lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act comes in response to legislation passed by the Republican Congress in 2017 zeroing out the tax penalty that enforces the law’s mandate that every American obtain health coverage. Although Republicans failed over repeated attempts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, they did manage to strike this individual blow against the law–and in doing so, paved the way for the controversial argument subsequently mounted by Republican attorneys general that the ACA can’t function at all without the mandate.

“This case is really dangerous,” said Fox. “It essentially argues that the entirety of the ACA should be ruled unconstitutional because Congress repealed one small component of an expansive and transformative law.”

One of the bigger problems with this case is it seeks to define the “intent of Congress” based on their vote to zero out the mandate as an intent to repeal the Affordable Care Act as a whole, which doesn’t make sense. If the political will had existed to repeal the law entirely, Congress could have done that. In the New York Times story recapping yesterday’s hearing, there seems to be a cynical acknowledgement of this on the part of one of the GOP-appointed judges:

Judge Engelhardt asked Mr. Letter, the House lawyer, why Congress could not remedy the situation by writing a new health law or set of laws.

“They could do this tomorrow,” Judge Engelhardt said, leading Mr. Letter to dryly point out that Mr. Trump would need to sign off on new laws, too. [Pols emphasis]

“And obviously the president would sign this, right?” he asked sardonically. “No, obviously not.”

“You can fix this, and the Supreme Court has told you how to do it,” Mr. Letter told the panel, referring to legal precedent that directs courts to limit damage to major statutes when considering which provisions to throw out. “Maintain everything you can that can stand on its own.”

For Sen. Cory Gardner, this legal battle entails more than the usual risk–especially if the case comes before the U.S. Supreme Court before the 2020 elections. After all, the promise to not just get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which millions of Americans depend on for their coverage, but to replace the ACA with a system that would insure Americans and continue to protect patients with pre-existing conditions is a promise that Gardner has personally broken. In 2015, Gardner promised that in the event of a successful court challenge to the law that Republicans in Congress would have a replacement ready to go, a promise we now know was totally without merit.

It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Gardner’s year-long campaign against the Affordable Care Act, falsely claiming the law had resulted in hundreds of thousands of Coloradans losing coverage and telling a story of personal higher health costs under the ACA that reality-based numbers were never able to support, has left him one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the nation on the issue. In the event of chaos resulting from a successful GOP court challenge that makes no provision for his own stated goals like protecting people with pre-existing conditions, Gardner would be left holding the bag politically at the worst possible moment in his career.

As of this writing, the odds are pretty good that this will be the outcome.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 10)


Can we just trade Mississippi to another country? It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is stepping up his efforts to increase accountability for immigrant detention facilities. As Colorado Public Radio reports, Crow says he will make weekly visits to a privately-run detention facility in Aurora:

The move is part of Crow’s effort to provide proper supervision of the facility, which he believes Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are not currently providing.

“They’re refusing to conduct the oversight and make some of the changes that need to be made,” Crow explained. “So, we’re going to conduct that oversight.”

Crow has been denied entry to the facility in the past. He expects the weekly visits to begin Monday at 12 p.m. MT. Crow’s staff plan to follow the guidelines provided in ICE’s 2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards and will make their findings available online.

 

► As Westword reports, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is taking more heat for his silence as a court battle proceeds over the fate of Obamacare:

As yet another Republican legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act makes its way through the courts, Colorado Democrats are sounding the alarm over its potentially devastating impact on the state’s health care system — and blasting Senator Cory Gardner for his continued silence on the lawsuit.

“This would do irrevocable harm to consumers,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, on Tuesday, July 9. “It would leave millions without insurance options, it would throw our health care system into chaos, and it would threaten our state’s fiscal stability.”

Fox and other health policy experts spoke to reporters as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments in Texas v. Azar, the latest in a long line of Republican attempts to overturn the ACA, also known as Obamacare, through Congress and the courts…

…Democrats have pressed Gardner, widely viewed as the most vulnerable Republican senator in the 2020 election, to take a position on Texas v. Azar, but he has repeatedly declined to comment, most recently claiming in May that he hadn’t seen a brief  filed by the Trump administration in support of the lawsuit. Gardner’s office did not respond on Tuesday to multiple inquiries regarding his views on the lawsuit. [Pols emphasis]

Don’t stop us if you’ve heard that before.

 

► Poll results released Tuesday on the Democratic race for U.S. Senate in Colorado indicate that likely Primary voters are still very much undecided on whom to support against incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. The numbers show Secretary of State Jena Griswold just behind former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, though it turns out that the polling was commissioned through a PAC that is supportive of a potential Griswold Senate bid.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Gardner Pours Cold Water on Polis Recall

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner, former state Sen. Tim Neville.

Cory Gardner thinks Colorado Republicans should focus on winning the next election, not recalling Democratic Gov. Jared Polis from office.

Asked about the Polis recall, Gardner recently told El Paso Republicans, as first reported by The Denver Post:

GARDNER: “You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … . “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”

Gardner’s comment aligns with the views of establishment figures within the Colorado Republican Party, who’ve said repeatedly that recall organizers will never collect enough signatures to get the recall measure on the ballot–and the effort itself makes the Republican Party look petty, whiny, and chaotic in the eyes of swing voters. 

But the organizers of the Polis recall have the loud backing of conservative talk radio hosts and many party activists, who are livid at the governor for signing laws this year addressing gun-safety, the presidential popular vote, and comprehensive sex-ed, among other alleged transgressions.

Recall backers also say their organizing efforts will help them win next year’s election, bolstering their voter lists and identifying more volunteers and activists.

Gardner’s decision to publicly throw water on the Polis recall came as a surprise to some political analysts, who’ve noted that Gardner has already angered Republican activists to the point where they have given him a chilly reception at the state’s largest gathering of conservatives, the Centennial Institute’s Western Conservative Summit.

KNUS radio host Randy Corporon has speculated that Gardner was considering skipping this year’s Summit, in part, because he didn’t get a fully “warm reception” there last year. Gardner has decided to attend the gathering this weekend.

On the other hand, Gardner has pleased Republican activists by, among other things, endorsing Trump and approving Trump’s declaration of a national emergency for the purpose of funding a border wall.

If You Want Gun Safety, You’re Gonna Have to Vote For It


The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a complete mess as an organization, with story after story detailing lavish spending and misuse of funds from numerous top NRA officials. Here in Colorado, Republicans have increasingly been voicing their concerns with the bullying political tactics of gun-loving groups like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).

But as the Washington Post reports, it’s clear that the gun lobby still has control of the Republican Party:

Barely more than 90 minutes after it convened a special session called by the Democratic governor to debate gun legislation, the GOP-controlled General Assembly abruptly adjourned without taking action, stunning hundreds of gun control activists and gun rights protesters who had packed the Capitol. [Pols emphasis]…

“The call for this session was premature,” House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) told reporters moments after adjourning. He accused Northam of “an election-year stunt,” and said the topic of gun violence needs to be more thoroughly studied before taking action.

“The Republicans in this state are totally controlled—I mean 100 percent – controlled by the National Rifle Association.”

— Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam called the special session after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead on May 31. It appeared as though some Republican lawmakers were actually interested in discussing gun safety until another local gun group started screeching at them:

Before adjourning, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) pulled a bill he had filed on Monday that seemed to suggest Republicans might find some common ground with Democrats. His bill would have banned firearms from local government buildings around the state and make any violation a felony. State law now bans guns only in courthouses, and a violation is a misdemeanor.

But Norment faced an intense backlash from members of his own party and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, and moments after Tuesday’s session began, he announced he was pulling the bill. [Pols emphasis]

Virginia Republicans aren’t going to do squat about gun safety, just as a GOP Senate and a Republican-controlled White House won’t act on it, either. This story in “The Onion” is clearly satirical — but it’s not entirely wrong, either.

Voters increasingly understand that Republicans won’t budge on gun safety, so they are taking it upon themselves to speak at the ballot box; if you don’t think this is part of the reason Colorado Democrats have been so successful in recent elections, then you haven’t been paying attention. While most of us will have to wait until November 2020, voters in Virginia will have their chance to voice their opinions when all 140 state legislative seats are on the ballot this fall.

As Richmond Mayor Lavar Stoney said today: “There will be a day of reckoning. If not today, then it will be at the ballot box in November.”

New Poll Suggests Democrats Still Looking for Senate Nominee


UPDATE: As 9News reports, it appears that this poll was paid for by supporters of Secretary of State Jena Griswold, so take these numbers with the appropriate grains of salt.

—–

We finally get a chance today to see the first public polling numbers in the Democratic race for the 2020 U.S. Senate nomination and the right to challenge incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). We’ve known for some time that Gardner is about as favorable as a sunburn in Colorado, but a lack of available polling information has made it harder to gauge the relative strength of the (many) Democrats in the field.

According to a Keating-OnSight poll of likely 2020 Colorado Democratic Senate Primary voters released today, it would appear that the most likely candidate to become the Democratic nominee has yet to enter the race:

Via Keating Research

 

The obvious takeaway from these numbers is that the race for the Democratic Senate nomination remains virtually wide open, with 42% of respondents saying that they are “undecided” and 15% giving their preference to someone who isn’t even a declared candidate.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold was just elected in November 2018 and has not formally announced a Senate bid, yet she trails only former State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff among likely Democratic Primary voters. Romanoff’s numbers here are almost certainly attributable to name ID built up among Democrats over the last 15 years. Griswold’s unfavorable rating of just 4% suggests that her standing among potential voters is entirely related to name ID built up in 2018.

These poll results are disconcerting for candidates such as Alice Madden, Dan Baer, and John Walsh, who each only hover around the 2% mark, but it is former State Senator Mike Johnston who should be really worried. Johnston’s third-place finish in the 2018 Democratic Primary for Governor suggested that he has a solid ceiling in a statewide Primary. These Senate numbers would seem to confirm that belief.

At this time last year, Johnston was coming off a campaign in which more than $7.5 million was spent on his behalf — and he is still only polling at 12% among likely Democratic Primary voters. That’s brutal. Johnston leads the Democratic field in fundraising with $3.8 million in the bank, but that won’t dissuade other potential candidates from entering the race because Johnston will need every dime just to raise his own profile.

This poll isn’t very helpful for the current field of Democratic candidates, but it’s great news for better-known potential candidates such as Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County), and former Gov. John Hickenlooper. In other words, the 2020 Senate race hasn’t even really started yet.

How The Hell Can Patrick Neville Remain Minority Leader?


House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Over the weekend, a Denver Post guest opinion piece from former El Paso County Republican Party chairman Joshua Hosler shocked the local political chattering class with allegations of threats both overt and delivered via sinister anonymous phone calls against Hosler for his criticism of powerful conservative activist group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In particular, Hosler alleges that Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s chief of staff Jim Pfaff threatened to expose alleged professional and personal misdeeds if Hosler didn’t “back off” RMGO.

Last night, Denver7 ran a follow-up story on the fallout from Sunday’s disclosures, and got a response from Minority Leader Neville about the actions of his chief of staff on behalf of RMGO–who in addition to being a political ally is also a registered lobbying organization before the General Assembly:

House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville, who is a supporter of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners sent a statement to Denver7 about the infighting among Republicans saying it’s time for the party to come together.

“…Party infighting needs to stop. We achieve great things when we come together to fight for liberty and freedom. The Democrats know we cannot be defeated if we stand together. My Chief of Staff made amends and publicly said so. He has done a great job with this caucus. Unfortunately, we still have some in the GOP who would prefer to divide us. [Pols emphasis] It is unfortunate, but it will not deter us,” Rep. Neville’s statement read.

As you can see, Minority Leader Neville doesn’t think his chief of staff’s threats on behalf of RMGO are the problem here. The problem as Rep. Neville sees it is Joshua Hosler, for daring to second-guess the decision by Colorado GOP vice chair Kristi Burton Brown, Minority Leader Neville, and RMGO to pursue a recall of freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan. Now that the Sullivan recall campaign has collapsed in a heap, it’s clear in retrospect that Hosler was right–but that’s criticism, as you can see, that Republicans in high places do not want to hear.

We’ll leave it to lawyers to assess the criminality of the threats made against Hosler by Neville’s chief of staff on behalf of RMGO, but politically this is a totally unacceptable situation. To have a state employee threatening a member of the public on behalf of an organization that both lobbies the legislature and contributes to candidates and campaigns is an outrageous conflict of interest that under ordinary circumstances would send the responsible party to the unemployment line.

But not only will Jim Pfaff keep his job, Minority Leader Patrick Neville is blaming the victim.

Folks, this is not normal. These are fundamental, essential standards being violated. It has been long suggested that the rise of the Neville clan and their allies at RMGO to dominance of the Colorado Republican Party represents something new and more sinister than any other force in contemporary Colorado politics–even accounting for such distasteful figures as Tom Tancredo.

Now it’s on display for all to see.

Disunity Rages As Polis Recall Petition Drive Kicks Off


TUESDAY UPDATE: The Greeley Tribune’s Trevor Reid reports:

The Official Recall group said that the Dismiss group’s “premature” filing suggests malicious intent, adding the Resist and Dismiss groups may attempt to hijack the Official Recall name and logo.

Asked about such attempts, Karen Murray, co-chairwoman of the Official Recall group, shared a screenshot with the Greeley Tribune showing the main image for a Facebook event, with text reading “Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Facebook Page.” The event is not supported by the Official Recall group, and calls to remove the Official Recall name have gone unanswered, Murray said. That includes a July 5 post to the event page pointing out the use of the Official Recall name…

Tom Good, chairman for the Resist Polis PAC, said in an email that the Official Recall group’s “actions and decisions fit well into the losing tradition conservatives in Colorado experience due to personality-driven politics and self interests.” [Pols emphasis]

As you can see, this is starting off extremely well.

—–

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports that Sen. Cory Gardner is hedging hard on the recall of Gov. Jared Polis–which may not sit well with the Republican faithful he needs in 2020:

Polis beat his Republican opponent, former state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, by 10 points just eight months ago and a recent poll from Keating Research showed 55% of Coloradans think the state is on the right track.

Even the state’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, danced around the question when asked about the Polis recall.

“You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … ,” Gardner said at a recent Republican Party event in El Paso County. “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”

Pretty far from a vote of confidence.

—–

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, a longshot attempt to gather an unprecedented 600,000+ voter signatures to place a recall of Gov. Jared Polis on the ballot will start its 60-day clock this week–this being the product of the Resist Polis PAC headed by local political operative Tom Good in alliance with the “Dismiss Polis” organization fronted by the daughter of far-right Rep. Kimmi Lewis:

The first petition to seek the recall of Gov. Jared Polis — submitted by the group Dismiss Polis — was turned in Monday morning, according to a spokesperson for the Secretary of State.

Monday marks six months since Gov. Jared Polis was sworn into office. It’s also the day that those who seek his recall can officially begin circulating petitions.

A second recall, targeting state Democratic Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, could be underway by the end of the week, according to a Monday Facebook post from Republican Nancy Pallozzi, who leads that effort.

The combined effort to push a petition to recall Gov. Polis along with petitions to recall specific targeted legislators has been long anticipated by Democrats. Although the Polis recall itself is extremely unlikely to succeed, the thinking is that a Polis petition will serve as an “icebreaker” with potential petition signers for the legislative recalls–since in many cases prospective signers may not even know who their state lawmakers are.

But as we reported last week, the largest of the groups working to recall Gov. Polis, the “Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee,” is actively opposing the Dismiss Polis/Resist Polis petition drive. In a press release that went out earlier this morning, ORCGJP announces they will not cooperate with the Dismiss/Resist petition campaign, and urge their 40,000+ members not to sign:

The Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee (Herein after referred to as ORCGJP) is NOT associated with any other recall groups. After careful consideration and financial review of the conglomerate group Resist Polis PAC, Recall Et All [sic] and Dismiss Polis, it is clear to us that a petition filed at this time will be a failure due to lack of adequate resources and no defined strategy. This conglomerate has stated their intention to file July 10th under the Dismiss Polis Issue Committee.

Combined money in the conglomerate equal $45,882. ORCGJP on-hand contributions are $62,533. Millions of dollars, not thousands, will be required to circulate a petition of this size to recall multi-millionaire Jared Polis. When a petition drops, we expect a mass media offensive by Polis’s team. Without adequate funding or clear plan of action, Dismiss does not have the necessary infrastructure in place to conduct this recall, and while the intention may be good, we believe the recall needs to be handled with proper due diligence and the highest degree of planning to ensure the greatest chance of success.

ORCGJP believes Dismiss’s premature filing also suggests malicious intent, and though we hope that is not the case, we have evidence suggesting Resist/Dismiss may attempt to hijack our ORCGJP name and logo. We feel we must warn potential signers that ORCGJP will not file a petition until we know we can win and have a well-oiled machine ready to roll. While we wish Resist/Dismiss well and hope they are successful, we anticipate “picking up the pieces” after the likely failure of the Dismiss recall petition. While some of their members’ intentions may be in the best interest of this recall, their leaders’ actions do not reflect a desire to successfully recall Jared Polis.

Estimates of what would be necessary in terms of funding to successfully gather the over 630,000 valid Colorado registered voter signatures vary considerably dependent on input factors like the amount of volunteer vs. paid-per-signature canvassing, advertising costs, and other expenses. The absolute bare-bones lowest number we’re heard is somewhere around $1 million for a campaign assuming unprecedented grassroots mobilization and minimal overhead, with higher estimates in the $5-$15 million range utilizing for-profit consultants on the scale that would be needed.

However you arrive at your estimate of the total cost, the tiny fraction that has actually been raised so far makes hope of success for the campaign presently getting underway simply irrational. They haven’t raised enough to physically print the petition forms, let alone carry out a successful campaign to collect the signatures. Meanwhile all the other attendant overhead costs of running a campaign chip away at the amount they’ve raised. Keep in mind that the bulk of fundraising for these groups appears to have come during and immediately following the legislative session, with two intervening months now for momentum to sputter out.

What does this all mean? It means that for all their considerable optics problems, the “Official” Polis recall group is right. The campaign kicking off this week cannot succeed, and because it is doomed to fail risks doing collateral damage–not just to the drive to recall Polis but to any other recalls Republicans may be planning against state legislators. We’ll leave it to readers to decide whether the Dismiss/Resist Polis alliance is a deception being run by allies of Gov. Polis, because in the end it really doesn’t matter.

When you’re your own worst enemy, the outcome is the same.

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 8)


We’ve got a lot to catch up on after a long holiday weekend. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 President Trump announced late last week that he planned to continue efforts to get a citizenship question placed on the 2020 Census form…comments that came just hours after Justice Department attorneys acknowledged that their legal arguments in this regard were essentially worthless. As the Washington Post reports, a new group of saps now must take up Trump’s cause:

The Justice Department is swapping out the lawyers who had been representing the administration in its legal battle to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census, possibly signaling career attorneys’ legal or ethical concerns over the maneuvering ordered by President Trump.

The department announced the move in a statement, which was issued after The Washington Post inquired about whether the career lawyers on the team planned to withdraw. A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that at least some of the career attorneys harbored concerns about the administration’s handling of the case — although the nature of those concerns and how widespread they were could not immediately be learned…

…the entire team on the case — both those in political positions and career employees who have served multiple administrations — will be replaced with political and career lawyers from the department’s Civil Division and Consumer Protection Branch. Several career members of the team declined to comment to The Post.

Colorado Republicans continue to pursue half-baked recall attempts against a number of Democratic elected officials. But as Anna Staver writes for the Denver Post, these efforts may be helping Democrats more than they are harming them:

About 75 people showed up in Lakewood on a balmy Sunday morning at the end of June to knock on doors for Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen.

It was an unusual sight — even for residents of a swing district. State lawmakers rarely canvass with an army of volunteers in the years they aren’t up for election, but Pettersen walked her community that weekend because Republican Nancy Pallozzi, who previously ran against Pettersen, announced a plan to recall her from office…

…Wadhams and other Republicans have started to worry that all these recall efforts — most of which they believe to be doomed from the start — are actually playing into the hands of Democrats. Potential recall targets are raking in six-figure donations from national groups and mobilizing their bases to knock on thousands of doors.

“I think this approach is terribly misguided and will end up strengthening the vast majority of Democratic legislators, if not all of them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Republican infighting is getting out of control, with one former county party official openly condemning attacks from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and the Neville Clan. Check out these two Op-Eds that ran over the weekend, penned by well-known Colorado Republicans who are tired of what has happened to their Party. Former El Paso County GOP Chair Joshua Hosler’s Op-Ed for the Denver Post is particularly jarring:

In May I spoke out on social media. RMGO had launched an effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, the Democrat who had defeated Wist and taken his seat in the Colorado House. Members of the Republican Party’s leadership supported RMGO’s efforts and this felt like a mistake…[a]fter that post, I received three calls from anonymous men who threatened me and my family if I did not back off RMGO and Dudley Brown. No one messes with my family, especially cowards. [Pols emphasis]

Then things got worse. On May 30th at 2:50 p.m. I received a call from the chief of staff for the Colorado House Republicans. Jim Pfaff works directly for House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. He asked when I was going to stop attacking RMGO and Dudley Brown. I responded, “I am not going to stop.”

Pfaff then threatened to smear me with rumors — false rumors that I had heard before from someone close to RMGO trying to influence my decisions — that I had rigged the party chair election and had inappropriate relationships with women in the Republican Party. I told Pfaff that I had already heard those fake rumors and it was old news. Pfaff stated, “I am sure I will find more on you.”

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s Chief of Staff, Jim Pfaff, did not dispute this story in response to an inquiry from the Post, and RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown confirmed that he bullies and threatens candidates when he disagrees with their policy positions.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Donald Trump Jr., Cory Gardner To Headline #WCS19


Donald Trump, Jr., holding the severed tail of an elephant he has just killed.

Significant last-minute additions to this coming weekend’s Western Conservative Summit list of speakers, as Denver7 reports–including the Crown Prince of the United States himself, Donald John Trump Jr.: 

In a press release, Chairman of the Western Conservative Summit Jeff Hunt said Donald Trump Jr. is one of the boldest conservative voice[s] in the United States.

“He is a warrior for limited government, free markets, personal freedom, and the Constitution,” Hunt said. “We are elated he will be speaking at the Western Conservative Summit.”

Trump serves as executive vice president of the Trump Organization.

Donald Trump Jr. is certainly the biggest name so far announced for this year’s WCS, which was up until the latest additions including Sen. Cory Gardner was looking like the least luminary roster in some years. Gardner was apparently uncertain enough about appearing, hedging as late as a week ago, that Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute went so far as to publicly express his disappointment. Gardner’s perilously weak favorability among base Republicans, one of his key deficiencies going into next year’s election, probably always obligated him to appear–even though appearing at WCS could easily be a liability for Gardner with swing voters.

Considering Don Jr.’s reputation for being able to offend just about anybody including fellow conservatives in his free-wheeling defense of his father’s crazy train presidency, Gardner’s apprehension may prove well-founded before the weekend is out. There are any number of issues on which Trump and Gardner could come into conflict from Russia to building a wall on the Mexican border–conflicts Gardner does not want to get into, especially in the presence of base Colorado conservatives.

For all of these reasons, it would be a mistake to think that this event is friendly territory for Gardner. It’s a high-stakes tap dance, with major risks if Gardner commits a gaffe or elicits a negative response from the conservative audience. On the other hand, too much conservative red meat is no less a liability to Gardner in this left-trending swing state.

Will Gardner end up wishing he hadn’t gone at all? Stay tuned.

House GOP CoS Threatens Fellow Republican Over RMGO


UPDATE: In a column for the Colorado Sun today, GOP attorney Mario Nicolais drives home a similar theme, practically begging fellow Republicans to see reason and focus on rebuilding ahead of the 2020 elections instead of recalls that feel good but ultimately backfire:

Ironically, as the Colorado Republican Party shrinks, its center shifts to the loudest, most ardent voices who have driven away other members of the coalition. The result is a slow, downward spiral that quickens as it closes in on the bottom.

In Colorado, that quickening became evident last year as Republicans lost all levers of power across the state, often by surprisingly large margins. The Republican reaction has been to channel the same energy into recall elections, presumably to take advantage of smaller electorates and concentrated resources.

Unfortunately for Colorado Republicans, the recent spat of recall elections only emphasized an inability to aggregate enough energy and clout to be effective, even in the most hospitable circumstances. That bodes very ominous for Republican hopes of winning back legislative seats, protecting Sen. Cory Gardner, or delivering the state’s electoral votes to President Trump in 2020.

When Congressman Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party in March, he declared the party needed to teach Democrats “to spell r-e-c-a-l-l.” As it turns out, the primary lesson to be drawn from recent recalls is that Republicans must learn how to spell “r-e-b-u-i-l-d” if they hope to remain relevant in Colorado politics.

Smart Republicans are saying it. Is there anyone listening? Anyone who isn’t afraid of the threats that will follow (see below) if they speak out too? We’ll have to wait and see how it ends. Like the Godfather movies, it’s far healthier to watch this drama than be part of it.

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House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

As Colorado politics starts to come alive again after a long holiday weekend, in today’s Denver Post we’re shocked to read in an op-ed from former El Paso County GOP chairman Joshua Hosler about threats he has received in recent weeks over his opposition to the failed recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan–and the influence of the far-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners over the Colorado Republican Party at manifold levels.

Hosler, a combat veteran, seems to have been the wrong guy to mess with:

In May I spoke out on social media. RMGO had launched an effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, the Democrat who had defeated Wist and taken his seat in the Colorado House. Members of the Republican Party’s leadership supported RMGO’s efforts and this felt like a mistake…[a]fter that post, I received three calls from anonymous men who threatened me and my family if I did not back off RMGO and Dudley Brown. No one messes with my family, especially cowards. [Pols emphasis]

Then things got worse. On May 30th at 2:50 p.m. I received a call from the chief of staff for the Colorado House Republicans. Jim Pfaff works directly for House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. He asked when I was going to stop attacking RMGO and Dudley Brown. I responded, “I am not going to stop.”

Pfaff then threatened to smear me with rumors — false rumors that I had heard before from someone close to RMGO trying to influence my decisions — that I had rigged the party chair election and had inappropriate relationships with women in the Republican Party. I told Pfaff that I had already heard those fake rumors and it was old news. Pfaff stated, “I am sure I will find more on you.”

That the chief of state for the Colorado House Republican minority, Jim Pfaff, is the one who threatened Hosler on behalf of RMGO is extremely important to fully process. RMGO’s controversial history of attacking insufficiently strident Republicans and stacking GOP primaries with candidates personally loyal to Dudley Brown has essentially transformed the party into Brown’s fiefdom–especially where his closest allies in the Neville family hold sway. The Neville political dynasty in particular owes much of its power to RMGO’s support both for their family and their political allies, so much so that today’s it’s impossible to say where RMGO ends and the party begins in Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s House minority.

Needless to say, it’s even harder now.

The ill-fated Sullivan recall attempt was not just a product of RMGO, it was backed at the highest levels of the Colorado Republican Party. The Sullivan petition was filed by Colorado GOP vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, who although no relation to Dudley Brown has a long work history with the Nevilles as their committee filing agent. We now know that the “official” Sullivan recall committee claims to have raised and spent nothing, meaning all of the donations and spending for this recall filed by the state party vice chair went through RMGO.

It’s clear that there are Republicans in this state who want to change course. But as this Republican just found out the hard way, changing course will require more than scapegoating one organization. There are other moving parts in the mix, including a long-running operation by two-time gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez to “purge” the party of RMGO-backed candidates and embarrassments (here’s looking at you, Lori Saine) we’ve heard may try again for the 2020 primaries. It’s evident that nothing less than wholesale regime change in the Colorado GOP is needed, but we’re not at all convinced Colorado Republicans at any level are able to understand what that means.

The one thing we do feel certain of is it’s going to get uglier before it gets better.

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